Saturday, January 16, 2021

Mary Ellen Taylor - Union Street Bakery

Daisy McCrae's life is in tatters. She's lost her job, broken up with her boyfriend, and has been reduced to living in the attic above her family's store, the Union Street Bakery, while learning the business. Unfortunately, the bakery is in serious hardship. Making things worse is the constant feeling of not being a "real" McCrae since she was adopted as a child and has a less-than-perfect relationship with her two sisters.
Then a long-standing elderly customer passes away, and for some reason bequeaths Daisy a journal dating back to the 1850s, written by a slave girl named Susie. As she reads, Daisy learns more about her family--and her own heritage--than she ever dreamed. Haunted by dreams of the young Susie, who beckons Daisy to "find her," she is compelled to look further into the past of the town and her family.
What she finds are the answers she has longed for her entire life, and a chance to begin again with the courage and desire she thought she lost for good.

Comment: I became interested in this book back in 2016. It seemed the heroine would need to change her life and by the blurb it felt as if she would overcome her problems and find what she needed in new things, and I'm al for stories about bakeries or pastry shops or any sort of cooking involved, so why not?

In this story we meet Daisy, who lost her job in finance markets and had to go back home, to work at her adoptive family's business. She vowed to never get back as soon as she found her taste for numbers but bad markets did make her turn back and she realizes she didn't forget as much as she thought. However, the business isn't doing as well as it could and Daisy feels the responsibility to turn things around falls into her hands. At the same time, she learns some information about her past and needs to deal with that and what it could mean to some questions she has always had about the mother who abandoned her...

This story has great bones and it also has a good content. I liked the idea of this book and the kind of situations presented, how things progress and the way the characters needed to deal with their issues. At times, this was quite emotional, in particularly when Daisy is confronted with her biological mother's reasons to have let her go.

Daisy is a good enough main character but I felt her aloof too long. I can understand she has a more logical and pragmatic personality, that she isn't too focused on her vulnerabilities but she does have them. I'd say the balance between her softer side and her determined business woman one wasn't always well achieved. I found her a bit too difficult to sympathize most of the times. I liked her, don't be mistaken, but it wasn't always obvious why I should since she didn't reveal that.

There's a little hint of a romance but that isn't the main subject here, at all. However, perhaps it could have been and that might have helped things seem more important to Daisy than her struggle with abandonment. I mean, this is clearly an important subject and it would affect anyone's state of mind or emotional responses to others and to social actions, but it's fiction, I think the author could have thought of writing things in a better perspective to let this come across while allowing Daisy to reach a bit ore obvious happiness a little quicker.

I think it's clear the author knew what she was doing by writing about a bakery business and I liked to learn a few things. I also think some situations regarding the bakery and those working in it (namely the new baker who shows up at the end and Daisy's sisters) were left too much in the air. I don't know if it was on purpose but there was a lot to think of while reading the book.. Some things got a bit more attention than others, though...

For instance, a good part of the book is centered on the story of a slave who left a notebook of sorts, which is left to Daisy by an old woman. There's a reason why this is given to her but before we find out, there are passages of that notebook and references to the slave and her life, which are all quite interesting and that I enjoyed reading about, but then I'd lose focus of the "present" narrative and I ended up with the feeling there were too many things and not enough points of convergence, so it felt too many things were happening.

Despite these things, the story was interesting although I confess I could put the book down without annoyance. Like I said, Daisy is understandably difficult to read or to like, but I liked the fact her journey led her to appreciate her family even more and the small possibilities in the way of her bakery business.

I saw there's a second book with these characters and I'd read it but the price is really expensive. I'll keep an eye on a deal if it ever happens but it seems rather disappointing the difference between the price of this book and that one, especially the ebook...

Grade: 6/10

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